10. Prepositions

10.1 General Considerations

English prepositional usage may be treated in different ways depending on the starting points chosen and the aspects that are being emphasized. [1] Thus, prepositions have been classified in different ways depending on whether the framework is, for example, ‘traditional’ grammar, Structuralism, Case Grammar, or Cognitive Grammar. [2]

Prepositions are very closely allied in nature to adverbs. Poutsma (1926: II.ii § 27 c) defines the close connection as follows: “Prepositions may, indeed, be regarded as adverbs governing a complement.” The close connection between prepositions and adverbs is also shown in terminology. In addition to the terms preposition and adverb, the term prepositional adverb is used in some grammars. In the grammar of Quirk et al. (1979: 305), these terms are illustrated with the following examples: (a) A car drove past the door (preposition) and (b) A car drove past (prepositional adverb). Some earlier traditional grammarians, e.g. Jespersen (1924) and Poutsma (1926), use the blanket term particle [3] for prepositions and adverbs. [4]

Most of the common English prepositions consist of one word (e.g. at, off, to and up). These are often called ‘simple’, as opposed to complex prepositions, i.e. prepositions consisting of more than one word. According to Quirk et al. (1979: 6.5), most complex prepositions can be assigned to one of three categories: (a) adverb + preposition, e.g. away from, out of and up to; (b) verb/adjective/conjunction/etc. + preposition, e.g. except for, due to and because of; and (c) preposition + noun + preposition, e.g. in comparison with and instead of. However, Quirk et al. (1979) considered the boundary between simple and complex prepositions to be fuzzy (for details, see 1979: 6.7). Bennett (1975: 73-74) regards combinations such as those in Quirk et al.’s category (a) as two separate syntactic units, i.e. a sequence of an adverb followed by a preposition, not as a complex preposition. To complicate the matter even further, in some studies Quirk et al.’s complex prepositions are called phrasal prepositions. [5] Furthermore, multi-word (or two-word) combinations may be called group-prepositions. Palmer (1955: §391) lists, e.g., back to, down to, up to, away from and out of among group-prepositions.

In this study, the term preposition is used to refer to a word or a word combination that connects the noun phrase (NP) with the preceding element (often a verb), irrespective of whether the preposition is identical in form to a word with another function (e.g. an adverb). [6] All instances in which the preposition is required by the verb or is ‘part’ of the verb are excluded from this investigation. In other words, I exclude the ‘prepositions’ in phrasal verbs, prepositional verbs and phrasal-prepositional verbs (see, e.g., Leech & Svartvik (1980: 263-265)). I shall use the term single preposition (Pr) to refer to one-word prepositions (e.g. in and up). The two-word combinations will be called preposition combinations (PrC) (e.g. out of and up in).

There are approximately 130 prepositions in present-day English. [7] The discussion here focuses on the forms and uses of the most common prepositions, [8] with special attention being paid to those aspects that differ from the usage in (written) StE and to similarities and differences compared to other regional dialects. In the latter case, those prepositions which occur less frequently in the interviews carried out for the present study will also be of interest. The investigation also deals with the non-expression of a preposition.

10.2 Single Prepositions and Preposition Combinations

10.2.1 A

The preposition a occurs occasionally in expressions of location, as in 10.1 (a), and in expressions of time, as in 10.1 (b); the latter usage is more common than the former.

10.1 (a) we had a field on a pitch a Cottenham hill (Rampton TR)
  (b) I used t(o) go with them a Saturdays (Swaffham Prior EW)

Wright (EDD 1889-1905; A, prep.) reports the form a in various dialects: in Somerset in the sense of ‘to’, e.g. Down a Minehead and I be gwain in a town (w. Som.1), and in Worcester, Hereford and Suffolk in the sense of ‘at’ and ‘on’, e.g. ’E were a chu’ch o’ Sun’y (w. Wor.) and ‘A live a’ hin house (Hrf. 2; Suf. 1) and we’ll go a Sunday (Suf. 1). Forby (1830: 3) notes that a is used as a substitute for the prepositions at, to, in, into, on and of. According to the OED (a, prep.1; o prep.), the preposition a (also o) survives in a few phrases such as afield and ashore.

For the use of a before participles and verbal nouns (e.g. He’d been a-threshing down there), see 3.3.2.

10.2.2 At, in, on

The uses of at, in and on in expressions of location correspond to those in present-day StE. Lindkvist (1950: 58-74) lists examples of the use of in, such as before names of countries, cities, towns, villages, deserts, peninsulas, as well as the nouns country, land and place. As in StE, in alternates with at. Thus, there are cases such as at Harston, in Cambridge and at his mother’s. [9] Notice that London is not preceded by at, as it is, according to Hughes & Trudgill (1979: 19), in non-standard dialects. [10]

On occurs especially with items denoting areas, such as field and meadow, alternating with the preposition in. I have found no cases in which on is used instead of present-day StE in, in the way it was used, for example, in the Suffolk dialect, according to Wright (EDD On, prep.), who gives the example You will find it on my room. Another point worth making is the extreme rarity of the preposition upon, which in (written) StE is employed as an equivalent of on. The combination up on (pronounced as two words) is, however, used, as in the example: CM: That was up on a = EM: six horses CM: = up on = airfields (Fulbourn).

Naturally, the choice of at, in or on is also connected with the conventional lexical meaning of the preposition, as in on (‘upon’) the table as opposed to in (‘inside’) the house. Generally speaking, the use of at, in and on in my Cambridgeshire material may nevertheless be limited in comparison with the use of these prepositions in the standard language, since expressions of location are also constructed with down/up in cases where StE usage requires at, in or on.

In StE, a prepositional phrase of motion accompanied by a dynamic verb (go, move, fly, etc.) usually takes the prepositions to, into or onto/on to, while a prepositional phrase of location takes at, in or on. [11] Dialect speech and less formal speech in general (Quirk et al. 1979: 6.13 Note) do not necessarily recognize the difference between the use of at/in/on and the use of to/into/onto. That is, in dialects, the prepositions at, in and on are used to indicate motion, direction or destination in cases where the more formal language, and especially the written language, would normally have to, into or onto/on to. Thus, there are cases such as:

10.2 (a) And don’t come in this yard any more! (Rampton TR)
  (b) After the harvest done farmers used to give them (i.e. women) permission to go- go on the field to gleaning (Harston AS).

At is not attested in expressions of motion in the material for the present study.

The use of in in various dialects has been particularly noted. Forby (1830: 153) writes that, in the dialect spoken in Norfolk and Suffolk, the preposition in expresses both motion and location: “We say indifferently to ‘go’ and to ‘stay in the house’.” In the dialect of Farnworth and district (Lancashire), too, in is used in the senses of ‘in’ and ‘into’ (Shorrocks 1980: 655). Indeed, in many places this dual meaning is the norm amongst dialect speakers, and in is often used in this way by people whose speech is very considerably modified towards the standard in other respects. [12]

Information on the use of into in dialects is very limited. However, Forby (1970: 155) observes that “into is now generally been used [sic], with respect to in, as denoting motion.” Forby (1970: 123) gives examples such as Walk into house and send him into th’ orchard (cf. the use of in discussed by Forby above). Using his South Zeal (Devonshire) material, Harris (1970: 44) found “no cases of into, with close juncture, indicating a relationship of place”. He qualified this by noting that “with open juncture it is, however, found in the sense of StE to (into),” as in Us walked from there in to Horrabridge. In to (two words) is not attested in my Cambridgeshire material. In expressions of motion, into (pronounced as one word) is infrequent, compared to in. Into occurs mostly in expressions such as make ’em into bacon (Bartlow CP), churn that into butter (Burwell GW), etc.

As is the case with into, there are very few mentions of the use of onto/on to in dialects. However, the usage is recorded by Forby (1970: 155) for the Norfolk and Suffolk dialects: “[w]e use onto, with the like relation to on. So, probably, do other provincials” and illustrated by the example Throw some coals onto the fire. Harris (1967: 108) writes that the form on to is not found in the dialect of South Zeal, on being used for both place and motion. In the material for the present study, the combination on to (spelt as two words as it is pronounced as such) is extremely infrequent, compared to on and to, but occurs in cases such as that was afore, ‘fore I went on to waterbanks (Swaffham Prior EW). Onto (pronounced as one word) is not attested in the interviews carried out for the present study.

One reason for the use of the prepositions in and on in expressions of motion in dialect speech may be that it is a continuation of the older use of these prepositions in ‘motion’ expressions. In older English, at, in and on were used for both location and motion. In OE these two uses were usually differentiated by the case of the noun/pronoun; these uses survived in ME even after the levelling of the case-endings. For instance, Chaucer uses in to denote motion, as shown in the example And broghte hire hoom with hym in his contree (1386 Knights Tale. 11; quoted from OED, in prep). In the 16th century, into was used more often than in to indicate motion. However, it was not until the 17th century that in was supplanted by into as completely as it is today (e.g. LDOCE, in; Lindqvist 1950: 93-104; Mustanoja 1960: 388). Similarly, on was used to express both contact with or proximity to any surface and motion to or towards such a position. In the 16th century, the senses indicated by on began to be indicated by the combination on to, now commonly written onto, by analogy with into (e.g. OED, on, prep; Mustanoja 1960: 399-400). However, the use of on for motion coexisted with onto, as shown in They now are come on lande (1576 Gascoigne Philomene [Arb] 97; quoted from OED, on, prep.). [13]

In addition to their uses in expressions of location and motion, at, in and on are also used in expressions of time. With at there are cases such as at harvest time and at night, and with in cases such as in the morning and in them days. The names of the days of the week are used in either the singular or the plural when speaking of what generally happens on such and such a day in many consecutive weeks. Illustrations of the usage include:

10.3 (a) [They] never done nothing on a Sunday (Willingham SS)
  (b) You don’t come to look at them on Sundays (Newton JF)

The context of example 10.3 (a) shows that on a Sunday indicates repeated occurrence (cf. Shorrocks (1980: 660) on a Sunday (i.e. on Sundays, every Sunday)). Such cases should be differentiated from cases in which the indefinite article is used in the sense of ‘one, a certain’, as in I got wounded up there ... That was on a Saturday (Fulbourn CM). With the noun in the plural, the preposition is infrequent (cf. Saturdays, etc. discussed in 10.3). Names given to times of day are used in similar constructions. As with the names of the days of the week, with nouns in plural (mornings, aftermoons, etc.) the preposition is infrequent. See also the discussion of the non-expression of a preposition in 10.3. For more examples of expressions of time, see 6.3.

The preposition at is also used in expressions indicating price, such as She bought me a pair of shoes at three and sixpence (Willingham ES).

Furthermore, on is frequently found in cases in which present-day StE has of. [14]On is especially common in partitive expressions, such as seven on us (Newton JF) and none on that (Harlton MP). In expressions like these, on was common in literary use until about 1750, and is now found in dialects (OED, on, prep.). Shorrocks (1980: 659) states that the forms with n (i.e. [ɔn], [en]) are “compulsory before a vowel, and optional before a consonant”, exemplifying the usage with I’ll have either on them [pronounced [em]) and the half on it. [15] Examples from the Incidental Material (and from questions other than those designed primarily to elicit syntactical material) in the SED include: twenty or thirty on them and some on it. [16] For partitive expressions with the preposition of and with the non-expression of a preposition (e.g. plenty eggs), see 6.5.

On is also used instead of present-day StE of with the verbs think, make, hear and become, in cases like I can’t think on it (Rampton TR), and make bread on it (Bassingbourn BR), I'm never heard on it (Willingham SS), and what become on ’em (Willingham SS). In addition, on is used with a number of adjectives in cases such as several people … are mad on it (Waterbeach BB), and me boys are happy on it (Harston AS) and their mothers were glad on it (Rampton TR). Note that the word following the preposition on begins with a vowel (cf. seven on us, some on ’em). Examples from the Incidental Material (and from questions other than those designed primarily to elicit syntactical material) in the SED include: think on it, make a fool on them, never heard nothing on it, I’ve heard on it, I’m tired on it and I’m sure on it. [17] Cf. think to, as in What do you think to it? (Burwell GW). The use of to in this case may be due to contact with Suffolk speakers (Burwell is near the Suffolk border) who, according to Claxton (1968: 9), say think to.

10.2.3 Down, up

Down (dating from about 1500 (e.g. Bøgholm 1920: 38); replaced adown), and up (goes back to ME up (oup, houp); e.g. Dill 1986: 36) are used in both expressions of location and expressions of motion, as shown in the examples:

10.4 (a) Used to have a little dairy up the farm (Newton JF)
  (b) They used to go down the mill (Harlton MP)

Various studies on dialectal usage include examples with down and up in expressions comparable to these. The use of up in the sense of ‘to’ is pointed out by Hughes & Trudgill (1979: 19) with the example He went up the park. Hughes & Trudgill do not specify any area for this usage. Forby (1970 [1830]: 123), however, gives examples such as go up chamber for East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk), Harris (1970: 44) examples such as He had it all sent up London, you know for South Zeal, Devonshire, and Ihalainen (1980: 194) examples such as He came down Langport for Somerset. Ihalainen further mentions that, in Somerset, “up and down are used in the sense ‘to’”. Evidence from northern dialects is given by Shorrocks (1980: 653- 665), who observes that in the dialect of Farnworth and district (Lancashire) down is used in the senses of ‘down to’, ‘down in’, and up as a preposition in the manner of down. [18] In less formal spoken English, the use of up and down is recorded by Lindkvist (1976: 189-190; 324) in the senses of ‘up into’, ‘up to’; ‘down into’, ‘down to’; ‘up in’, ‘up on’; and ‘down in’, ‘down on’, and exemplified with She goes up her mother’s every day, They went down town, He is down the marketplace all day and Is he up that place all day ?

One explanation for the uses of down and up in dialect speech and in colloquial English in cases such as those exemplified above is that they are survivals of an older usage. In older English, up and down were used as prepositions in cases in which present-day StE has to. According to Mustanoja (1960: 356, 416), in OE and ME up (and in a few cases in ME adown) expresses both motion and location; in indicating motion, up (rarely adown) is usually equivalent to to or against and expresses the point reached by ascending (descending) or arrival. Examples quoted from the OED include: such folc was arrived, as me sede, up his londe for ME, and He step’d up the House and To-day when I go down town for ModE (OED, up, prep. 1; up, prep. 2; down, prep.). In the latter two cases, up and down indicate motion and direction into or towards the interior of a point or place.

In the examples given so far, the NPs following down/up have denoted towns, parks, buildings etc. In addition, down and up are commonly used with NPs denoting roads, streets, rivers, etc. The usage in examples such as there were that one (i.e. cottage) down Church Lane and [They] used to come up the river and = up the Cote (Willingham ES) corresponds to that in (spoken and written) StE. In StE, the preposition along is often used in cases comparable to these. In the interviews carried out for the present study, along is rare. Cf. the use of along in the sense of ‘(along) with’, discussed below.

The combinations down at/in/on/to and up at/in/on/to also occur in the material for the present study, as in the examples we lived down on the farm then (Burwell GW) and when I went up to co-op first (Fulbourn CM). However, they are extremely infrequent compared to the single down/up. This finding supports the idea that the old usage, i.e. the use of single down/up in (OE and) ME, has survived well in Cambridgeshire.

The selection of down or up in a given situation can be understood in a number of ways. A conventional use of down is to express direction or descent from a higher to a lower level. Up, in contrast, expresses direction or ascent from a lower to a higher level. Down and up are, thus, directional in meaning, or, as Bennett (1975: 88-89) puts it, down and up may be defined as ‘goal locative lower’ and ‘goal locative higher’. Conventionally, down and up also mean ‘being in a lower place’ and ‘being in a higher place’, respectively. Thus, it is natural to use up in cases such as they used to hang ’em half-way up the chimney (Castle Camps JH) and down in cases such as Which is the best way to get down the Fen ? (Rampton TR). Both the movement or direction and the static position in these examples are related to the idea of verticality.

However, the Cambridgeshire material for the present study also includes numerous instances with no clear notion of verticality. The use of down and up is particularly common with NPs denoting a part of a village, as in And they would come down Lordship Terrace (Willingham ET) and We went up West Field the twenty-fourth of July (Willingham ES). The observation that down/up has no connection with verticality has also been made in other studies. For instance, Wright (EDD, Down), in explaining his example Let’s gan doon Pathrington (e.Yks.), says that the same expression is used even if the road goes uphill. Shorrocks (1980: 653) observes that the preposition down does not necessarily relate to the geographical or topographical position of the speaker. [19] Harris (1970: 45), in his study of Devon dialect, observes that the relationships established by down or up are rigidly adhered to, to the extent that a place is often referred to in a particular way, such as up Lovaton, even when it is used with another preposition, particularly from. That is, the positional indicator down/up is used so frequently with a name that it becomes almost an integral part of it; hence we find compounds of the type from up Lovaton and from down Tavistock. In Cambridgeshire dialect speech (and in some other regional dialects), however, down and up are not as fixed as they are in Devon. It is true that up is used with London, but this is probably due to the important position of London among English people. Similarly, the use of up with Cambridge and with nouns such as rectory, as in examples 10.5 (a-b), may be due to the prestige or high value associated with these places.

10.5 (a) Because he used to go = up Cambridge courting (Waterbeach BB)
MG: Where did you go?
SC: Up th’ Rectory (Lt. Eversden)

Hill (1968, Down. B.7) indirectly supports this idea of up being used with important places, asserting that down means “away from a place thought of as more important, in the direction of a place thought of as less important”; note also that students at Cambridge and Oxford Universities talk about ‘going down’, i.e. away from these universities.

One further explanation for the selection of down or up is connected with the idea that these items form a contrasting pair. What we label as up is partially determined by what we label as down. This may explain the use of both down and up in:

10.6 (a) If she didn’t want you down tha- down there she used to say, “You go up yin eend = yin eend,” you know, up th’other end what you’d say yon end. (Willigham ES)
  (b) Oh, she never did live up here (i.e. where the informant was living at the moment of recording). She lived down in Harston (i.e. in another part in the same village). (Harston AS)

In example 10.6 (a), the informant is explaining how Mrs * wanted the children to depart from her end of the road (down there) and go to the other end. The reason for the choice of up may be the fact that that the particular end is more remote when seen from Mrs *’s point of view. The informant was living ‘down there’ at the time Mrs * said these words. On the other hand, in example 10.6 (b), down is used to refer to a more distant place and up to the one where the informant was actually situated. The adverbs here and there are used to indicate ‘nearness’ and ‘remoteness’, respectively.

The motion, extension, or direction implied by down and up can also be horizontal, sometimes with an idea of a slight difference in level, but often with no such indication. This corresponds with StE usage, and down and up are used in the sense of ‘along’, as in:

10.7 (a) Well = when you went down, down that road, the bottom there = there were a gate (Willingham ES)
  (b) [I used to] watch for her come up West Fen Road (Willingham ET)

One further factor in the selection of down or up is the location of the place ‘on the map’. Wood (1979, Down; Up) notes that there is a tendency to use down for places south of where the speaker is, and up for places north. Wood continues: “Anyone in the Midlands speaking on the telephone to someone in Kent or Surrey, will probably inquire What’s the weather like down your way? But to someone in Yorkshire the question will probably be, W hat’s the weather like up your way?” In my Cambridgeshire material, this explanation is valid for examples such as 10.8, in which the informant refers to Lowestoft in Devon, a place south of where the informant is (Harston).

10.8     They went down Lowestoft with children (Harston AS)

The examples and explanations above indicate that the choice between down and up depends on various factors. It seems, however, that it is the speaker’s perspective that is most important. The speaker’s perspective is, in turn, affected by various personal preferences and by traditional or customary usage.

10.2.4 (Away) from, off (of/on), out (of)

In denoting departure or moving away, the preposition from is commonly intensified by away (usually in the form way), as in:

10.9     We used to fetch it (a)way from Earith (Over EF)

Off occurs both in expressions of motion, direction, or place, and in expressions denoting a source (from the hands, charge, possession, etc.). The first type is exemplified in 10.10 (a) and the second in 10.10 (b).

10.10 (a) I come off the farm up here (Burwell GW)
  (b) He couldn’t get enough pigs round = off local people (Swaffham Prior EW)

The form off is also the form found in Cambridgeshire in the SED (IX.2.13; Q. Smith was so bad at riding that he fell …. his horse). Wright (EDD 1989-1905) records off as indicating source in the sense of ‘from’, ‘of’, ‘out of’, as in the example I bought it off him (Nottingham), and also indicating ‘from’, ‘from the direction of’, as in the example The wind is off a dry airt (Fife, Scotland).

The combination off of/off on is also recorded in the interviews carried out for the present study, in cases such as:

10.11 (a) [he] washed the sweat off of them shoulders and = oh, they were ready for going again (Rampton TR)
  (b) two and six I bought [that bike] off on him (Waterbeach BB) (h is not pronounced)

The combination off of has a wider distribution than Cambridgeshire. Wright (EDD 1898-1905), who documents the usage at the turn of the 19th century, gives the examples Take your hands off of the table and He bought his horse off of a farmer (Lei.1 Nhp.1) and She never so much as took a penny off of anyone (Fison Merry Suf. (1899, 63); War.2 3 Suf.). Forby (1970 [1830]: 154-155) records this combination in the dialect(s) of Norfolk and Suffolk at the turn of the 19th century, and Claxton (1968: 9) in the Suffolk dialect of the beginning of the 20th century. The SED material (IX.2.13), collected in the 1950s, reports off of in such counties as Essex and Huntingdonshire (fell off of his horse), and, according to Wakelin (1972a: 118), off of (and off on) is a feature which occurs in SED responses from throughout the country. Similarly, Hughes & Trudgill (1979: 19) present this combination as one of characteristics of non-standard dialects, giving the example I got off of the bus. [20]

In present-day dialect speech, the combination off of is a survival of an older usage. The form off (etymologically the same as of) appears sporadically from circa 1400, but of and off were not completely differentiated until after 1600 (OED, off, prep.). Shakespeare has off of in his play Henry VI (Bøgholm 1920: 273): A fall off of a Tree (a1616 Shaks. 2 Hen. VI (1623) II. i. 98 [1594 Falling off on] a Tree]).

In the material for the present study, the preposition out occurs in expressions indicating motion or direction in the sense of ‘out of/from a place or thing’, ‘out of/from a source or origin’, as in the examples:

10.12 (a) the cows = come in out the meadows (Swaffham Prior EW)
  (b) they’d take two or three [larks] out these flats (i.e. flatten baskets) (Willingham SS)
  (c) and wind it (i.e. water) out the well (Bartlow CP)

The single preposition out is common compared to the combination out of/out on. The combination is attested in cases such as and he = this here doctor come, he told me to get out o(f) bed (Willingham ES) and We just got out on it (i.e. house) (Waterbeach BB). The combination out on is also the form recorded in the SED material for Cambridgeshire (IX.2.15; Q. A man who has been in the Army a long time is usually very thankful, not to stay in it, but to get …). [21] Forby (1830: 154) comments on the use of on for of, observing that “Shakspeare has ‘out on’ for ‘out of’ in Troilus and Cressida.” Forby further states: “We carry it a step further; in which it is pretty certain that we can derive no countenance from Shakspeare, or any one else. We change the on into in, and always say, ‘Go out in the house’.” Wright (EDD 1898–1905, out) also notes this latter usage: out in me, for ‘out of’.

The use of out for StE out of is attested in dialects other than that of Cambridgeshire. Shorrocks (1980: 660) gives the example get out the road (way) for the dialect of Farnworth and district (Lancashire). Shorrocks comments that the sense in the example is ‘from’ and compares the use with New High German (N.H.G) aus. [22]

One reason for the use of out for StE out of may be the fact that in out of the second element (i.e. of) of the combination is unstressed, and thus easily drops out in speech. The process may have proceeded via the intermediate stage of o’, which is commonly heard in speech (out of > out o’ > out). Another explanation that this is the survival of an old usage. As early as the middle of the 13th century, out was used as a preposition, as exemplified with going out the door he stopped (Bøgholm 1920: 21, 38). However, since OE the combination out of has been used along with out (OED, out, prep.; out of, prep).

Out is also used in colloquial speech. However, according to Bennett (1975: 78), out is not acceptable in Standard British and American English in the sense of ‘to the exterior of an entity’ (i.e. in cases such as come out the meadow and get out the house, which occur in Cambridgeshire dialect speech and others). Bennett further explains that out plus the zero is acceptable in American English in the sense of ‘to the exterior via a window, door, etc.’. Bennett (1975: 78) thus draws attention to the difference between Standard British English and American English and gives two pairs of sentences:

(a) The bird flew out of the window. (StBrE)
The bird flew out the window. (AmE)
(b) The bird flew out of the house.
*The bird flew out the house.

According to Bennett, the reason why the sentence marked with an asterisk is not acceptable lies in the semantics of these sentences. Out of the house means ‘to the exterior of the house’; But out (of) the window does not mean ‘to the exterior of the window’; rather, it means ‘to the exterior via the window’. [23]

10.2.5 Again, against

Again (usually pronounced [əgin]) is commonly used to indicate position in the sense of ‘opposite’, ‘facing’, as in example 10.13 (a), but also occasionally in the sense of ‘against’, as in example 10.13 (b).

10.13 (a) we come back and started again = Earith Bridge = again the gatehouse like (Willingham AA)
  (b) [He] used to leave it (i.e. a bike) again the rectory wall (Rampton TR)

The form against (usually pronounced [əginst]) is also used in the sense of ‘opposite’, ‘facing’, although less frequently than again, in cases such as there used to be a = row of cottages up against the Taversham church (Fulbourn CM). The preposition opposite is very infrequent compared to again and against.

Wright (EDD, again, prep.) notes that again (also written agaan, agean, agen, agin and agyen) has various dialectal uses in Scotland, Ireland and England. In most of its modern meanings, it is used instead of against. When indicating position, it is used in the sense of ‘near’, ‘beside’. Wright exemplifies this usage with He lives agen me (Nhp. 1) and She stood again the door (e.An. 1).

The use of again in the sense of ‘near’, ‘just by’, ‘next to’, ‘by the side of’ is also attested in the dialect of Farnworth and district, as noted by Shorrocks (1980: 650) and illustrated by the example she lives again the Drake (i.e. in the street next to the Drake Mill). [24] The use of again as a preposition in dialect speech is a continuation of an old tradition. In present-day StE, again is used only as an adverb. However, originally, again was used in both adverbial and prepositional functions. In the 16th century, again was restricted to adverbial use, except in the North, where it continued to occur both adverbially and prepositionally. The genitival form aʒeines (with a parasitic -t added about 1500) was also used as a preposition (Bøgholm 1920: 37; Mustanoja 1960: 358-359).

10.2.6 Along

Along (OED, along, C. adv.) occurs in the sense of ‘in company’, ‘with’, as shown in examples such as:

10.14 (a) I lived in there = (a)long my mother (Bartlow CP)
  (b) We got to trade (a)long other countries (West Wickham CC)
  (c) I’m keeping one (i.e. a paraffin lamp) along meself (Newton JF)

In contrast to the StE usage, along is not followed by with in these cases. The preposition with is also used in the same sense, as in the example He worked with him (Lt. Eversden SC). Compared to the preposition with, along with the omission of with is uncommon. Along with occurs occasionally, as in the example that sound used to carry along with him (Willingham ES).

10.2.7 Aside

The preposition aside occurs in cases such as:

10.15 (a) There’s a little ditch aside the road (Waterbeach BB)
MH: He had his farm building behind there, did he?
AA: down beside that wall ’side the White Hart like (Willingham)

According to Wright (EDD, aside, prep.), aside is used in the sense of ‘near’, ‘by the side of’ in various counties of England (Northumberland, Cumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Kent and Surrey); it is also used in Scotland. Wright also presents the form side as “an aphetic form of ‘ aside’” for Scotland.

The form beside is also attested in the material for the present study.

10.2.8 Atop

The preposition atop is used in cases such as:

10.16     There was only them three [houses] down the Farm Road and t- two atop the Green (Newton JF)

Wright (EDD, atop, prep.) lists a number of English counties (Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Lincolnshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Somerset and Devon), as well as larger areas, such as East Anglia, as regions in which this form was found; Wright also notes that it was found in Ireland. This form thus had a wide distribution.
In the material for the present study, the form top also occurs, as in the example I was born there just top the hill (Castle Camps JH) (cf. aside and side).

10.2.9 Near, close to

The combination close to occurs in the sense of ‘near’ in cases such as:

10.17     There’s one place close to Ely (Bartlow CP)

This combination is also found in the Cambridgeshire responses in the SED (IX.2.10; Q. Our house is not far away; so it must be….). In comparison with close to, the preposition near is uncommon, although it is attested in examples like Burwell, near Newmarket (Burwell GW). In contrast to this infrequent occurrence as a preposition, as an adverb the form is common (e.g. You can very near walk and keep up to it). For a discussion of near as an adverb, see 9.3.2.

10.2.10 Till, while

The preposition while is used in the sense of ‘till’, ‘until’, as in:

10.18     so they’d wait in pub while twelve (Willingham SS)

The use of while in Cambridgeshire is also noted by Wright (EDD, while, prep.), who exemplifies the usage with Please, m’m, can yoil spare me while Tuesday. Wright (EDD, while, prep.) also reports this preposition in other regions (south-west Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire) and gives the non-Cambridgeshire example sha’n’t leave home while to-morrow. While in this sense also occurs in the Cambridgeshire responses in the SED material (IX.2.2 Q. You usually can’t see a first-class football match on a Tuesday; you have to wait … Saturday.). While was used as a preposition in older English (e.g. Marlowe and Shakespeare), and, according to Wakelin (1972a: 118), who bases his conclusions on the SED material, it was still common as a preposition in the 1950s in the north, north Midlands and in the east. [25]

In the material for the present study, the preposition till is rare compared to while. The preposition until is even more infrequent.

10.3 Non-expression of a Preposition

I shall use the term non-expression of a preposition to refer to cases in which a preposition is required in present-day StE, and especially in the standard written language, in order to form a complete structure. I prefer to use the term non-expressed rather than, for instance, unexpressed, since non-expression does not exclude the possibility of there being no preposition in the first place, whereas, in my opinion, the term unexpressed carries with it the idea that something has been omitted. In some grammars, terms such as ‘omission’, ‘reduced’, ‘abbreviated’, etc. are also used. However, from a dialect speaker’s point of view, nothing may be ‘missing’.

In the material for the present study, the non-expression of a preposition – at least in a way that is audible to the normal ear – occurs in two ways. (1) A noun phrase is not preceded by a preposition (e.g. go Cambridge), or (2) the second element of a combination of prepositions is not expressed (e.g. out for out of). Examples of the first type include:

MG: You didn’t have to go to Cambridge yourself very often?
SC: I used to go Cambridge always. (Lt. Eversden)

In this example, even though the interviewer provides the preposition, the dialect speaker chooses the non-expression. The non-expression of a preposition is also reported in other dialects. Harris (1970: 47), drawing evidence from the dialect of South Zeal, Devonshire, notes that the phrases indicating relationship of place which can occur without a preposition are many and varied, adding that “both place-names and others are found with the sense both of motion and rest (to and at).” For the former, Harris gives the example You’d catch first train [to] Barnstaple (South Zeal, Devonshire) (the to is added by Harris). [26]

In expressions of time, prepositions are often not expressed, especially with names of the days of the week or parts of the day and with harvest time, wintertime, and other expressions ending in -time. Expressions of time with the non-expression of a preposition include:

10.20 (a) You come over Sunday morning (Rampton HP)
  (b) [They] didn't know nothing else only going there Sunday nights (Willingham ET)
  (c) [That] come from some brewery harvest time (Newton JF)

Similarly, speakers usually say them days, instead of in them days. The common expression used in the sense of ‘in those days’ is also that time o’ day. For more expressions of time, see 6.3.

The non-expression of the preposition to occurs occasionally in the expression used to, as in the example They use go twice Sundays (Willingham ES). This non-expression is also recorded in the SED (IX.4.15; there use(d) be) for a number of counties of England, among them Essex, a county bordering Cambridgeshire. [27]

For the non-expression of the preposition of in partitive expressions (e.g. plenty fowls), see 6.5. For the non-expression of the preposition of after out (i.e. out for StE out of), see the discussion in 10.2.4.


[1] Vasko 2005 is a detailed quantitative study of the most common prepositions in locative expressions in the speech of 38 male and female informants in 26 rural localities in Cambridgeshire. This corpus-based examination compares the uses in Cambridgeshire dialect speech to uses in other regional dialects, especially in the rural dialects of Suffolk, Somerset and Devon, the data for which are drawn from the Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects. Section 10 of the present study (i.e. Cambridgeshire Dialect Grammar) discusses prepositions used in locative expressions (although not in such a great detail as Vasko 2005), including the prepositions not dealt with in Vasko (2005), along with prepositions used in expressions of time, price, quantity etc.

[2] As a traditional grammarian, Curme (1935: 87) pays special attention to the preposition as an indeclinable word of relation; he also considers the item governed by the preposition, which must be a noun phrase. Curme’s discussion is formalistic and offers an extremely comprehensive definition of prepositions compared to the accounts given by case grammarians, for example (see below). Another traditional grammarian, Lindkvist (1950, 1972, 1976, 1978), is very informative on the semantics of prepositions. He discusses in detail the types of object, and even the specific lexemes, which are used as the ‘complement’ (Lindkvist’s term) of a preposition. In a similar vein, Wood (1967) provides a general account of approximately 100 prepositions, recognizing, for example, 21 senses of the preposition to.

These analyses are based on the idea that prepositions have many meanings. At the opposite extreme, we find the type of analysis which implies that the preposition retains its meaning, and that the differences are due to the context of the preposition. Thus, Bennett (1975: 65) distinguishes only one sense for each of the prepositions at, in and on. As Bennett (1975: 11) himself puts it, “Wherever I speak of different uses of some preposition, this formulation leaves open the question of whether or not distinct senses are involved.”

Another viewpoint is highlighted by structuralists. Their approach focuses explicitly on the way in which linguistic features can be described in terms of structures and systems; every linguistic item has its ‘place’ in a system, and its function, or value, derives from the relations which it contracts with other units of the system (e.g. Lyons 1968: 443; Rauh (1991: 176-177); Crystal 2003: 438). Within this framework, three basic properties are identified as typical of prepositions. Firstly, they are function or structure words; secondly, they have little lexical meaning; and thirdly, they are limited in number and hardly change through time (e.g. Rauh 1991).

Another aspect of the analysis of prepositions is presented within the framework of Case Grammar (e.g. Fillmore 1968, 1969, 1971; Dirven 1981; Radden 1982), which is itself an approach within the general orientation of Generative grammar.

The approach represented by Cognitive Grammar, a linguistic theory which sees language as an integral part of cognition, or as a means whereby cognitive content is given structure (Crystal 2003: 80), was largely developed by Langacker. Langacker (1995: 106) places his cognitive grammar in the context of other linguistic schools, stating that it is “just one approach within the broad movement called ‘cognitive linguistics’, which in turn is part of the broader movement of ‘functional linguistics’”. Cognitive linguistics emphasizes the connection between human reasoning and the language ‘gestalt’, and the inseparability of language and its use. The human mind, as an information-processing system, reduces the vast amount of highly complex information in the real world by “focussing on those aspects which, according to conventional experience, figure as salient, essential or relevant in a particular type of situation, as well as from the speaker’s perspective” (Zelinsky-Wibbelt 1993b: 2). As regards prepositions, this abstraction of information can be studied in the following way: in their prototypical meaning, most prepositions are spatial predicates, and as such they can focus on different aspects of our physical environment (Zelinsky-Wibbelt 1993b).

For a more detailed discussion of the theoretical frameworks used in studies of prepositions, see Vasko (2005: 88-94).

[3] Biber et al. (1999:, however, reserve the term particle for adverbial particles only. Adverbial particles, according to Biber et al. (1999: 2.4.6), are a small group of short invariable forms with a core meaning of motion and result. Among the most important adverbial particles, they include down, in, off, on, out and up. They further note that, most typically, adverbial particles are added to verbs (while prepositions precede noun phrases), and that they are used in two main ways: to build multi-word verbs (e.g. bring up and take in) and to build extended prepositional phrases (e.g. down in the middle and up in the mountains).

The items which are used as adverbial particles can, however, also be used as prepositions (e.g. up). Thus, (a) They staggered up the last steep of the mountain (preposition) and (b) They staggered up (adverbial particle) (Biber et al. 1999:

[4] One way to avoid calling words such as in, up, down and across prepositions in some cases and adverbs, prepositional adverbs or adverbial particles in others is to call them prepositions, regardless of whether or not they are followed by a noun phrase. One can then reserve the term ‘adverb’ for ‘real’ adverbs such as rurally or upwards. This is the course taken by Huddleston & Pullum (2002). In taking this approach, they enlarge the category of prepositions considerably. First of all, they state (2002: 600) that the absence of a noun complement is not a decisive factor. Secondly, they expand the concept of preposition to cover (a) all the subordinating conjunctions of traditional grammars, with three exceptions: whether, if in the sense ‘whether’, and that; and (b) a subset of adverbs, e.g. since. This means, for example, that since is a preposition in both I haven’t seen her since the war and I haven’t seen her since.

Huddleston and Pullum (2002: 603) focus on the semantic-syntactic properties of the category of prepositions and define the category as follows: “A relatively closed grammatically distinct class of words whose most central members characteristically express spatial relations or serve to mark various syntactic functions and semantic roles”. This definition is broad enough to allow the addition of new items into the category, thereby increasing the number of words traditionally recognized as prepositions.

[5] The term phrasal preposition is used by Dill (1986), among others. According to Dill (1986: 22, 25–28), phrasal prepositions form a group of prepositions “consisting of two or more free forms that are perceived as separate words”. Phrasal prepositions are mainly combinations of a preposition + a noun + a preposition, such as at the expense of and in accordance with.

[6] The definitions of the term ‘preposition’ vary according to the aspects focused on. Using a definition of prepositions based on syntax and the literal translation of the word preposition (Lat. pre ‘before’ and pono ‘to place’), Dill (1986: 3) simply states that the function of prepositions is to join words and state relationships.

Biber et al. (1999: 2.4.5) define the term along similar lines. For them, prepositions are links which introduce prepositional phrases; and since the most typical complement in a prepositional phrase is a noun phrase, they can be regarded as a device which connects noun phrases with other structures. The idea of a preposition being followed by a noun phrase is also included in the definition given by Leech & Svartvik (1980: 52): “What follows the preposition in PP has the structure of an NP.” Quirk et al. (1979: 299) add a qualification, stating that only exceptionally, mainly in idioms, may an adverb or an adjective function as a prepositional complement (e.g. at once).

Another definition of the preposition within traditional grammar is presented by Curme (1935. Vol. 2: 87): “A preposition is a word that indicates a relation between the noun or pronoun it governs and another word, which may be a verb, an adjective, or another noun or pronoun.” This definition emphasizes the function of expressing relation. It offers an extremely comprehensive definition of a preposition; a restriction is imposed only on the governed item, which is required to be a noun phrase. For the definition of the term preposition by Huddleston & Pullum, see note 4.

[7] The figures for the total number of items in the category of prepositions in ModE vary in different studies, according to how the category is defined. Of the 195 prepositions which, according to Dill (1986: 36-53), have been used during the Modern English period, some 136 are in use today. The tags in the Lancaster-Oslo-Bergen Corpus (LOB) of British English identify 134 expressions as prepositions; a somewhat smaller number are included as prepositions in the BROWN Corpus (more specifically, the Standard Corpus of Present-Day Edited American English), according to König & Kortmann (1991: 109). Collins Cobuild English Guides: 1 Prepositions (viii) lists 124 prepositions.

[8] In contrast to the variation in the figures given for the total number of prepositions included in the category of prepositions, the statistics are in good agreement regarding the most common prepositions within the category. The frequency rankings for the various prepositions also appear to be fairly similar. The frequency counts given by König & Kortmann (1991: 109-111) (cf. Mindt & Weber 1989; Mindt 1989) show that the most frequent prepositions in both the BROWN and the LOB corpora are the following: of, in, to, for, with, on, by, at, from, as, into, about and than, and that these particular prepositions comprise nearly 90 per cent of all occurrences of this word class in the two corpora, totalling about a million words in each (Francis & Kučera 1979: iii; Hofland & Johansson 1982). Of these 13 core items, the first two are by far the most frequent, making up nearly 45 per cent of all occurrences (König & Kortmann 1991: 111). In The British National Corpus (BNC), comprising approximately 100 million words, the list of the 13 most frequent prepositions (including their frequency figures) shows only one difference, namely in the last item (Aston & Burnard 1998: Preface, 28). There we find like instead of than (as shown in Table 6.1 in Leech et al. 2001: List 5.8). In the BNC, than is considered a conjunction, not a preposition.

[9] The preposition at is said by Cuyckens (1988: 49-64) to be “a typically English preposition”. The semantic descriptions of the StE usage range from Bennett’s (1968, 1975) very concise characterization of at to Lindkvist’s (1950, 1976, 1978) very lengthy and detailed discussion. Roughly speaking, Lindkvist distinguishes four meanings of at: (1) location in close proximity to an entity; (2) location within an area or space or on a surface apprehended as a point; (3) relative position; and (4) dimensionless entity. Lindkvist (1950: 202-204) points out that the localization is made in a vague manner, and that the presence of the item at the point is more strongly emphasized than the nearness as such (as in the Cambridgeshire example the churn used to stand at the door) (cf. by and near, which emphasize the nearness). Hofmann (1993: 161) points out that it is hard to give a specific meaning to at, since it is the ‘unmarked’ term, used when neither of the prepositions in or on is appropriate. Some languages, including German and Swedish, lack the point-apprehension of areas, surfaces and spaces, and use such non-particularizing prepositions as German in and auf and Swedish i and .

[10] I saw it at London is reported by Edwards (1993a: 234) for the Southern British English dialect area.

[11] There are, however, some restrictions on the prepositions in question, especially in British English. Regarding the various restrictions on the interchangeability of on with onto and in with into, Quirk et al. (1985: 9.16 Note) describe the situation as follows: “most verbs of motion, such as walk, slide and swim, require onto and into for destinational meaning,” whereas “‘causative verbs’ such as place, stand, lay, sit usually permit combinations both with and without to, onto and into.” Quirk et al. further note that there is thus a difference between Don’t run in the school (i.e. ‘when you are inside the building’) and Don’t run into the school (i.e. ‘from outside it’). On the other hand, there is free choice in cases such as She put the typewriter case on(to) the top shelf and the key in(to) the drawer. But “there appear to be some restrictions” in cases such as The mother sat the baby on/?onto the chair.

[12] The Suffolk, Devon and Somerset data in the Helsinki Corpus of British English Dialects (HD) show the preposition in in cases such as his one hobby was, after he done the teaching, was go in his garden do the er plant things (Saxmundham, Suffolk) and the preposition on in cases such as I went on my father’s farm (Samford Peverell, Devon) and I don’t think I went on the doctor, on to the doctor, oh, what could I say, not for years (Bishops Lydeard, Somerset). The Suffolk, Devon and Somerset recordings were transcribed by Kirsti Peitsara. For a more detailed discussion of the uses of at, in and on (with quantitative evidence), see Vasko (2005: 143-164).

There is evidence that this use of in is not restricted to English in England. Miller (1993: 132) states that in Scottish English, in does not need to be followed by to after verbs of movement (e.g. She ran in the living room).

In AmE, in is also accepted with verbs of motion, as long as “either the semantics of the verb or the immediate context precludes a contrast between into and within” (Dictionary of American Regional English [DARE] 1991; in, prep.). The following examples are quoted from DARE: (a) Walk in the house (dated from 1781), (b) He went in the house, and (c) We walked in the barn. Examples (b) and (c) were specified as common errors of speech in the Hurd Grammatical Corrector (1847).

[13] Some of the uses of at, in and on with the implication of motion have also survived in written StE up to the present day. This is the case especially with certain verbs. Lindkvist (1950: 95; 1976: 73) lists, for instance, the verbs dig, fall, land, lay, place, plant, plunge, put, set, sow and take, which in present-day StE are often or always used with in or on to indicate the ending-point relation and direction or the completed action. Thus, we say: He fell in the ditch and People take sugar in their coffee (‘ending-point relation’ or ‘direction’) and He placed it on the floor (‘completed action’). Similarly, at is common especially with certain verbs of motion, such as arrive, end, land and stop, which indicate the attainment of a point or a place, as in: It was past ten o’clock when he arrived at the office (Wood 1967, at).

The use of the same preposition in both expressions of location and those of motion is also found in languages other than English. For instance, in German the same preposition can appear in both types of prepositional phrase, with a different case marking on the article. Thus, the expressions corresponding to the English be in a shop and go to a shop are in einem Laden sein and in einen Laden gehen.

[14] The use of on for of and vice versa (e.g. some on ’ em and of a Sunday) is one of the four general tendencies which Edwards & Weltens (1985: 114) found when describing the use of prepositions in dialects.

[15] See also Peitsara (2000), who discusses the prepositions on and of in partitive and temporal constructions in British English dialects.

[16] For details, see Upton et al. (1994: 503).

[17] For details, see Upton et al. (1994: 503).

[18] The Suffolk, Somerset and Devon material, collected in the 1970s and 1980s, includes numerous examples with down and up, such as I used to have to go up the Hall and collect his lunch every day (Suffolk), Mother used to send me up shop (Somerset) and they used to live up Hockworthy (Devon). For more information on the Suffolk, Somerset and Devon data of rural speech, see http://www.helsinki.fi/varieng/CoRD/corpora/Dialects/index.html. For a more detailed quantitative discussion of the uses of down and up, see Vasko (2005: 176-190; 212-217).

Evidence from urban speech can be found in Cheshire (1982: 76-77), who observes that some prepositional functions that are performed by a preposition combination (a ‘complex’ preposition in her terminology) in StE are performed by a single (‘simple’ in her terminology) preposition in Reading English. Cheshire explains that the ‘reduction’ (Cheshire’s term) of the preposition combination in StE is to its second constituent, while in Reading English it is to its first (‘adverbial’ in her terminology) constituent. Thus, Cheshire explains the ‘simple’ down/up as being a result of reduction (cf. the explanation of the survival of an old usage discussed in 10.2.3). Cheshire et al. (1989: items 106, 107, 108) exemplify the usage: I’m going up/down/over my friend’s house later. The usage is noted also in the grammar of Southern British English by Edwards (1993a: 233-234), who gives the example I’m going up the park/the baths/the pictures.

This usage is not restricted to English in England. Miller (1993: 132) comments that, in Scottish English, “down and up do not require to after verbs of movement” and also that “after verbs of location they do not require at”. Miller’s examples include We’re going down the town, go down the shops and They were up the town yesterday.

[19] Further evidence comes from Cheshire (1982: 77), who similarly states that down and up do not appear to relate systematically to direction on a vertical plane. Speakers consistently use the phrases up the station and down the hospital, for example, though both the station and the hospital are in roughly the same area of the town (where the terrain is very flat).

Cf. the explanation of up Lovaton and down Tavistock by Harris (1970: 45).

[20] Edwards and Weltens (1985: 114) regard “the addition of of for off” as one of the four general tendencies when describing the use of prepositions in dialects. They exemplify this combination with I took it off of a stall. Cheshire (1982: 76-77) notes that Reading English uses the complex (Cheshire’s term) preposition off of where StE uses the simple (Cheshire’s term) preposition off to express direction away from an object, as in She jumped off of the climbing frame (Mandy). Cheshire et al.’s (1989: 206) questionnaire (item 99), sent to schools throughout Britain, shows that the combination off of is more frequent in the South of the country than in the Midlands or the North. This finding is consistent with the frequent occurrence of off of in the Somerset and Devon data of the Helsinki Corpus of the British English Dialects (HD). For a more detailed discussion of the occurrence of off of/off on in the HD data, and in the Cambridgeshire sub-corpus data in particular, see Vasko (2005: 164-166).

[21] According to Upton et al. (1994: 503), out on it (i.e. out of the army) is attested in a large number of counties in England, among them the counties bordering Cambridgeshire (i.e. Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Bedfordshire).

[22] Cheshire (1982: 77) suggests that it is due to reduction (Cheshire’s term) that out stands for StE out of in Reading English. Edwards (1993a: 233-234) notes this one-word construction in the Southern British English dialect area and exemplifies it with I told him to get out the house. Similarly, Miller (1993: 132) points out that, in Scottish English, “out does not need to be followed by of after verbs of movement”, illustrating this with the example because she’d just walked out the shop with it. For a detailed quantitative discussion of the use of out (for written StE out of) in the HD data, and in the Cambridgeshire sub-corpus data in particular, see Vasko (2005: 190-202).

[23] Estling (1999) studied the constructions out and out of in British and American English (drawing data from sources such as the British National Corpus and COBUILD Direct, The New York Times on CD-ROM and The Independent on CD-ROM). Estling noted that the corpora of spoken British English studied showed a strong preference for the construction with out. Estling further mentions that an increase in the percentage of out could be noted in the British quality newspapers (The Independent, from 1990 to 1995), and that newspapers belong to the genres where changes in language are likely to be reflected earlier than in other written channels, such as academic prose.

[24] Upton et al. (Survey of English Dialects: the Dictionary and Grammar 1994) list the areas in which again is found as follows: Durham, Westmoreland, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Lincolnshire, Essex and Sussex. The great majority of these counties are in northern and central England.

[25] Upton et al. (1994: 504) specify the counties as follows: Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire (all counties bordering Cambridgeshire), Berkshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Northumberland.

[26] Summarizing the use of prepositions in dialects in their article “Research on non-standard dialects”, Edwards & Weltens (1985: 114) observe that preposition deletion (their term), notably of on and to, is one of the general tendencies in dialects. They exemplify this tendency with We’re going pictures and He comes Saturday or Sunday. In his discussion (of the responses to the SED question VIII.5.1; Q. What do good people do on Sunday? – Rr. They go to church), Ramisch (1997: 224-225) notes that “the preposition to may be absent, resulting in responses such as they go church and the like, typically to be found in the southwest of England.” Upton et al. (1994: 503-504) specify the counties in which the expression go church is attested as follows: Suffolk, Kent, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, in addition to the south-west (Cornwall, Devon, Dorse and Somerset). Similarly, go school (SED VIII.6.1) is attested in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Sussex, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall (Upton et al. (1994: 504). Ramisch (1997: 227) further points out that the ‘absence’ of a preposition is confirmed by other items in the SED (e.g. stay home for stay at home).

[27] For the list of the counties, see Upton et al. (1994: 504).